Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Material Culture Items

Since the first time I volunteered at the Pioneer Farms giftshop I have been looking at two small crocks. They are perfect for little things like pickles or butter. I finally broke down and bought them.

The larger striped one is a Marshall Pottery piece.

The smaller, plain piece has no mark. I have a stripped round pitcher and bowl to match the Marshall crock. Very happy with this purchase.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blue check idea

I think I found what I want to do with the blue check I picked up from Needle and Thread.

Whatcha all think?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tyler Sesquicentennial Workshop

This past Saturday, Vicki Betts and I participated in a Civil War Sesquicentennial workshop presented by the Texas Historical Commission; for me it was a work event. I arrived Friday evening and met up with Vicki for dinner. After dinner we drove around town looking at houses and all the blooms, particularly the tulips. Of course I did not bring my camera with me.  We also drove by the house where Kate Stone lived for a time when she refugeed to Tyler during the Civil War. Kate didn't like Texas much, calling it the dark corner of the Confederacy. The house is now a museum and has been added to and redone so it doesn't look much like it did when Kate was there. The gates to the museum park were closed so I couldn't get up close to get any photos. I'll have to go back.

The workshop was part of a grant from the Society of the Order of the Southern Cross to present information on sesquicentennial events in Texas. This year's workshops focused on the preservation and interpretation efforts at Palmito Ranch, the last battle of the Civil War. It was also to include a talk from the Smith County Historical Society and a planned living history at Camp Ford in 2013. Unfortunately, signals got crossed, the message didn't get out, and the historical society did not show up. Three members of the public were there. That was ok.

The workshop was held at the historical society's offices at the Carnegie Public Library in Tyler. The bottom floor of the building is a museum of Smith County history and the archives. The second floor is an auditorium with a stage and great acoustics. Vicki and I tag-teamed an edited version of my Texas Civil War home front talk from the 1860's conference a couple of years ago. I read the narrative and Vicki picked up the quotes. It was a lot of fun and those there seemed to enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What's Coming Up

The Harrisburg conference is over so what do I have in line to work on next. Several projects actually.

  • The site manager at Pioneer Farms needs some correct clothes so I am making him a new vest and trousers.
  •  I also need to complete the other pair of drawers I cut out.
  • I would like to get some accurate sunbonnets out at Pioneer Farms.
  • And of course I need to find an inspiration for the new fabric I bought from Needle and Thread.
  • I need an 1890s outfit for Pioneer Farms.
Living History
That is all I have on my calendar right now. Oh, a few research projects to fit in as well. I'll post updates as things get under way.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Conference Dress Construction

When you are a presenter at the Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference, Carolann Schmitt sends you a length of fabric to mae a dress. Everyone gets the same fabric but can make it up anyway they wish. To see all the garments from this year, see

Usually the fabric is a cotton; however, this year's fabric was an Italian Merino wool.

Here is my inspiration dress.

The first thing I did was make the tie, since it was fairly easy.

Finding the false buttons was not possible so I had to make them. Nancy and I found some upholestry trim with the perfect tassles. I then dyed hoodie tie string and crochet thread to match the tassles. I crocheted around small rings to create the medallions to which the tassles are attached.

I didn't use a pattern per se, just a basic bodice that had from the last few dresses I made. I lined the bodice with brown polished cotton.

I made hook and eye tape using the fashion fabic. I used the instructions included with Past Patterns 812.

I didn't include piping in the armsyce as the inspiration dress didn't appear to have any.

However, I did pipe the neck line.

The wrist trim and collar was antique lace I had bought for another project that I decided not to persue.

The skirt was attached with a dog leg. Nothing different there. I had Three Sisters Millinery make a head covering for me to match that in the inspiration photo. And here is the finished product.

See more production pictures at

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference: Epilogue.2

Monday morning, my last day in Pennsylvania. We started off with breakfast at Perkins. There were other attendees as we saw them at breakfast and packing up as we left the hotel. It was kind of a sad feeling leaving the hotel with its empty parking lot. Our first stop was the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg.

I had been there a few years ago and not much had changed. It's a beautiful facility. The exhibits are definately military centered. In the gallery guide it says there is a Women in War exhibit on the roles of women in the war; however, it is nothing but a wall of quotes and etched portriats. I was disappointed. They have some great artifacts. One in particular was a personal flag that Kimberly and I would love to reproduce and pass out to the guys at Pioneer Farms.

However, it didn't take much time to go through the museum. We still had a little bit of time before we had to get Kimberly to the airport but not enough time to travel anywhere. We picked up a flyer for the Antique Marketplace in Lemoyne. How fun, I wish I had had more time to really explore. As it was I picked up some CDVs and a neat broach.

After dropping Kimberly off at the airport I headed to Hershey, as the guys at home wanted souveniors.

I drove around town, up and down Chocolate Ave. I love the architecture! Brick bungalows, very cute. Yes, the street lights on Chocolate Avenue are Hershey Kisses, alternating wrapped and unwrapped. There was a faint hint of chocolate in the air, or at least I thought so. Cute little town.

I then went up to the Hotel Hershey.

Just hung out in the lobby and shops. Very che-che. Nancy wants to stay one night there on one of our trips to the conference.

My trip back was a mess. Although I did get an upgrade to business class from Chicago to Denver. We were delayed coming out of Chicago so I missed my flight to Austin. But business class, oh yeah. Reclining seats, choice of movies (I watched The Artist), hot nuts, and hot dinner. First class gets their own little capsules, but business was still nice.

Since I missed my flight to Austin, the airline put me up in Denver, but without my checked bag. I managed, but would have liked to have fresh clothes. The flight back was uneventful, slept most of the way.

So ends another conference trip. Really looking forward to next year. I love these trips.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference: Epilogue.1

After the conference ended, we took Nancy to the airport as she had to leave that day. Kimberly and I stayed another day. After leaving Nancy at the airport Kimberly and I headed for Gettysburg. Our first stop was at the new battlefield visitor's center. This is a nice facility, but I think a bit commercial. It contains a gift shop/book store, movie theater, cafe, museum, and the cyclorama. You can also get guided tours of the battlefield.

We first watched the orientation film, which is basically about why the war started; we probably could have skipped that. It's well done, narrated by Morgan Freeman and produced in association with the History Channel. But I think Kimberly and I have a pretty good grasp on the causes of the war :). The film empties out to the cyclorama. I had never seen it before so it was pretty cool. There is a short narrative with battle sound and lighting effects.

Next we visited the museum. Some great artifacts and photos.

We then visited the gift shop. Wow. I know that most museum shops now need to cater to the general public, but the amount of kitsch really isn't necessary. And $26.00 baseball caps? Yes, I know that it goes to support battlefield preservation, but wow. On the other hand, the book selection was impressive.

We then decided to go into town and visit Abraham's Lady and get lunch. I just heard that Abraham's Lady is closing the shop but keeping the Internet site going. I picked up The Way They Were Dressed in 1860 -1865, A Photographic Reference - Volume 2.  I bought Vol. I a couple of years ago when I was there. I also got some buttons for the vest and trousers I'm making for Pioneer Farms.

We then had lunch at the Dobbin House Tavern. I really like eating here. The atmosphere is great and the food is yummy. 

After lunch we headed back to the battlefield to do the tour. It was cold, but managed to get a few pictures.

As we left the battlefield we ran into a little bit of snow. Since we had a late lunch we stopped off at the grocery store and picked up snacks and lunchables. We spent the evening packing up.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference: Part 6

Last day of the conference. Bittersweet. Always hate to see the conference end. The sessions on this day are not divided into tracks. The first presentation was Susan Hughes and "So You Want to be a Farmer (or a Farmer's Wife): The Agricultural Revolution and its Impact on Everyday Life in the 1860s". This was a fun presentation. Susan discussed farm life and the common varieties of farm crops and animals in mid-19th century. This was a fun and very informative session. I enjoyed it very much.

The last presentation of the conference was Joe Mieczkowski and "The Ordeal of the Civilians of Gettysburg, and What We Can Learn from Them". Mr. Mieczkowski is a Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide and the compiler/editor of books on Jefferson Davis' and Abraham Lincoln's cabinets. This was a fun presentation with lots of images and animation in the PowerPoint. The presentation went over the battle and its effect on the people living in and around Gettysburg.

And so it ends. The next conference will be February 28 - March 3, 2013. A couple of the presentations next year will be on period plants and crops and domestic service. I plan to be there!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference: Part 5

The Fancy Dress Ball
The last few conferences, Carolann has hosted a ball after dinner Saturday night. This year rather than just a ball, we had a fancy dress ball. I agonized over this for months before the conference. What was I going to go as? How was I going to get it all done? At one point Kimberly, Nancy and I were going to go as three graces, but family issues prevented me from getting it together. So I ended up taking my sheer pink cotton, buying some fake flowers at the marketplace and going as Spring...

Along with a couple of others. There were several seasons, a rose garden complete with thorny accompaniment, Cynthia Ann Parker, a queen bee and her keeper, several historical characters and other eras.

Music was provided by Smash the Windows. It was a lot of fun, but we only stayed through the costume parade and then went back to our room as Nancy had to pack up to leave on Sunday. 

Ladies and Gentlemen of 1860s Conference: Part 4

I forgot to mention my Needle and Thread purchase in the marketplace.

I love it. It's very soft cotton, very light weight but not really sheer. I only wanted 8 yards but that left only 3 on the bolt so I bought it all.

The weekend programs opened with the presentation of the conference dresses. All speakers and workshop presenters are sent a length of fabric; ladies are asked to make a dress and men a vest. Previously the fabric has been a cotton. This year the fabric was a wonderful tropical weight Italian wool.

This year ladies were asked to make a garment. There were dresses, coats, a traveling dress and a bathing costume.

Here is mine. I'll have another post dedicated to the construction later.

 Gentlemen were asked to make vests.

The day's presentations began after the fashion show. The conference is split into two tracks, one track more female slanted and one more geared toward men. I attended the ladies' track.

The first presentation was K. Krewer "What's in a Name? An Attempt at Disambiguation and Taxonomy of Mid-Victorian Attire". In this talk, K discussed our modern day use of terms to describe dresses such as camp dress, wash dress, tea dress, traveling dress. She pointed out that camp and tea dress are not period terms, wash dress described the qualities of the fabric (washable) and the difference between ballgowns, evening gowns and dinner dresses are sometimes hard to distinguish in period magazines without the descriptions. She also pointed out that formality of an event had more to do with the event itself rather than the time of day. She also addressed some incorrect ideas such as the amount of light in ballrooms and the color of ballgowns. It was a very interesting talk and made me really think about "truths" I've always accepted about period clothing.

The next speaker was Patricia Grunwald and "Hemlock is a Natural Product: Health Care in Mid-19th Century America". In this talk, Patricia discussed the history of pharmaceuticals, medical training, and home health care. It was both interesting and a bit frightening to hear what was available at the time.

After lunch we heard Beth Chamberlain and "From Moths to Fashion: Metamorphosis of the American Silk Industry"; another very interesting topic. I had no idea there was a concerted effort to produce silk in the US.

The final presentation of the day was Carolann's "Merciful Heavens, It's Hot! How to Stay Cool at Warm Weather Events." During this talk, Carolann discussed making events more period correct in warm weather such as laundry activities occurring early in the day. She also suggested other activities such as eating outside, utilizing bodies of water that might be at the event or putting your feet in basins of water, hanging out in a root cellar or spring house, and of course, planning your wardrobe accordingly.

With the end of the presentations we were dismissed to prepare for the Fancy Dress Ball.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference: Part 3

Workshop day and they went well. The morning workshop was the largest with 13 people. Most everyone completed their pincushions.

There were several different end finishings.

Between my sessions we went to lunch at the Camp Hill Cafe, a small local eatery. It was full of locals so we knew it would be good, and it was. We enjoyed it very much.

After all workshops we went to the presenters' reception that Carolann hosts for the conference presenters. She provides sandwiches and drinks. It's a good time to sit and visit with fellow presenters. That served as dinner. On to the conference opening and presentations, the marketplace and the originals.

The first presentation was Nicky Hughes and the adventures of Senator Golladay. The continuing adventures of Senator Golladay have been a highlight of conference. Mr. Hughes uses these presentations to show the material culture of the period to great effect. This year Senator Golladay visited the army, showing the various items that can be used to make a home in a tent. These are always fun and enjoyable, especially with Killer the duck.

The next talk was from Emmanuel Dabney on "The Omohundros of Richmond: A Slave Owning and Enslaved Family". This was a very interesting and well researched presentation. It concerned a slave trader and his family. The twist here was that the "wife" was a mulatto slave technically owned by Omohundro. She was treated by Omohundro as his legal wife, presented with jewels and clothes. It is also interesting to note that there were at least two other similar family situations in the area. Omohundro apparently had a white wife previously who died and a mulatto wife who left Virginia with their children. Very interesting talk on an intriguing topic.

A few more photos of the originals and then called it a night.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference: Part 2

I did not have a workshop to conduct on Thursday so I was able to attend Carolann's silk wristlet workshop this morning. This was a fun class and the wristlets are easy to put together. Carolann started off the class showing period examples of the wristlets. We had a choice of different kits. I bought the kit for the simple velvet ribbon with a clasp and a fancier on with ribbon decorations. The handouts included the instructions for all the different types of wristlets. I made the more complicated one in class.

Here is a picture of one of the other fancy version completed by another participant.

Photos of the construction process are included in the link in the Part 1 post.

After the workshop I met up with Kimberly and we had lunch at the hotel restaurant. Kimberly had a workshop that afternoon. I spent the afternoon finding my workshop room and moving the bricks from Maggie's truck into the room. To get the room it was necessary to go up a few steps and then down some stairs and it was at the other end of the wing from where the truck was parked. So loaded up the trunk of the rental car and drove around to the closest entrance. From there I took a few at a time down to the room. However, a housekeeping supervisor saw me hauling the bricks and pulled a couple of her male laundry staff and they carried the majority in for me. I was very grateful. I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the room waiting for Kimberly and Teri to get out of their classes to move the bran.  

Teri brought me 42 pounds of oat bran in two large bags and four smaller bags. Kimberly helped me move it from Teri's room to the workshop room. On the way we passed Carolann and K in the hall and there was a remark or two about irregularity. So all set up for the workshop.

That evening we had dinner at Perkins, across the parking lot from the hotel. Just as we were paying our bill, Nancy called and she had just landed. So off we go to the airport to pick her up. On the way back we stopped at the grocery to pick up some snacks and cleaner for the bricks.

We got Nancy settled and went down to attend the Conference reception and wrapper party. At this event, Carolann provides snacks and those who wish, can show off their wrappers and banions. This is a lot of fun; we get to meet up with everyone and renew friendships.

After the wrapper and banion fashion show, Carolann presented a few videos. The first was a Youtube video called "Stuff Museum People Say". Pretty cute. Then we watched the ball scene from "The Leopard". This is a great costume movie that takes place in 1860s Sicily. It was beautiful. Then the full Carol Burnett "Gone With the Wind" sketch. Hilarious!! We stayed for a little bit longer than went up to the room as we were all pretty tired but of course stayed up talking until late.